August 2019

Confronting John Milton: How and Why?

30 August 2019 In this further blog arising from my new study of Milton’s Christian Doctrine, I’m reflecting how I came to write it, as reflections on the purpose and meaning of this kind of research. See also my other blogposts: Q&A on Milton’s Scriptural Theology and A Cover You Won’t Soon Forget. Till just before I finished my BA at Oxford (1957-61), my working mind was fully occupied by Greek and Latin, and their history and philosophy. These demanded full attention, in vacations too, the way I was being educated! Then it occurred to me that “work” and “working life” had other...

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A Cover You Won’t Soon Forget

 15 August 2019 The cover’s Latin words and phrases are chosen equally from Milton’s topics and from his personal style in examining them.  Its prevailing monochrome is chosen to suggest print, and bibles, and academic and clerical garb, or the pen and ink of a controversial manuscript.  Polemic is suggested in the lineation, by jagged diagonals, tilting and crisscrossing.  Individual words are chosen for prominent topics, for individual aptness or for typical style and reasoning: Haeresis: In Greek, hairesis meant simply “choice,” as you find it used in Aristotle’s Ethics, for example. But in New Testament Greek it was producing the adjective, hairetikos, “heretical” (choosy, picking and choosing, by willful wrong-headedness). Milton...

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What does Medieval Podillya, an Unknown Multicultural Frontier in the East of Europe, Tell the World Today?

 16 August 2019 In the mid-fourteenth century, expansion of Europe eastward to lands where no one had any idea of “Europe” seemed inconceivable. However, a bizarre endeavour of Lithuanian princes, who had themselves just recently become Christians, managed to move the European frontier into territories that belonged to nomadic peoples. This expansion created a new historical region called Podillya. It was a remote land on the edge of Medieval Europe, where contested territories regularly turned into a battleground. Today it is part of Ukraine. In this very place, then and now. we can observe how European values struggled to embed...

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Q&A on Milton’s Scriptural Theology

Why did Milton write De Doctrina Christiana? He didn’t. He dictated it, being blind. Then how do you know he composed it? His name is on the MS, which survives. Views expressed, such as on Predestination or Divorce or Tithing, match Milton’s views expressed elsewhere. His prodigious skills in the biblical languages match those of his other prose works. So all the more, why did he undertake this enormous task? Irritation, he says, with the mistakes and bad logic of other theologians; for only the Bible can be trusted as evidence for safe belief, and he will now assemble what...

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